Three weeks after an accident that left him in a coma, Zeddrik Cota is walking and talking.
To his family, those things are nothing short of miraculous.
Zeddrik, 12, sat quietly Friday, with a smile on his face, as his parents recalled the last few weeks. He placed his hand on his mother’s, and listened as she talked about his recovery.
While riding his bike on June 14, Zeddrik asked his father if he could go check out the skate park at Campus Life, across the street from Hermiston High School.
As his father got out of the car, Zeddrik and his brother went into the park, not realizing there was a sharp drop-off close to where they were standing.
“There’s a lip that goes into a bowl that just drops off,” said Oscar Cota, Zeddrik’s father. “He goes up and over it, and faceplants into the concrete.”
Zeddrik had swelling on both sides of his brain, and was in a medically induced coma for four and a half days.
Within a day of coming out of the coma, Oscar said, his son’s eyes were opening, and the day after, he was responding to questions, and able to recognize his parents and siblings.
Zeddrik has several months of rehabilitation ahead of him: He will go through occupational and speech therapy, and will have some dental work.
“He’s had difficulty with a lot of stuff,” Oscar said. “His short-term memory is pretty affected.”
Paramedics who responded to the scene estimate Zeddrik fell about 10 or 12 feet from the dropoff.
Oscar said his son was wearing a baseball helmet at the time of the crash, which covered his ears and the side of his head.
Zeddrik’s mother, Alainna Abbott, said he may be able to go to school for a few hours a day, but they will have to keep him protected from any illnesses or other injuries.
“I told him he’s stuck in mom’s bubble,” Abbott said, smiling at her son. “He’s really bored, just because he’s so active.”
During his recovery, Zeddrik won’t be able to do many of the things he loves — hunting, playing sports and exploring the outdoors. But his family says he fully intends to get back to his energetic self.
“Our whole family put in for bull tags. Guess who’s the only one who got one?” Oscar said, pointing at his son. “Hopefully he’ll be well enough to go up there, but we’re not going to push it — it’ll come again.”
“At the end, hopefully it’s going to be a full recovery,” Oscar said.
Oscar said he and his family had been overwhelmed by the support of the town, even people he didn’t know.
“How I’m going to thank each and every one of them, I have no idea,” he said.
He said he thinks there could be some more steps taken to make the skate park safer, or at least to alert people about the steep dropoff.
“I’m glad he’s here, and I hope some safety precautions go up so that it doesn’t happen again,” Oscar said. “Especially because it’s near a daycare, and right behind the basketball court.”
A week after his return to Hermiston, Zeddrik met with some of the paramedics, so that he and his family could thank them.
“We remember these ones,” said Jesse Brown, the firefighter and EMT who called for a helicopter right after the accident. “Far too often, the outcome is not the same way. So these are the calls we live for, where we made a difference.”